A New Career, and a New Beginning in Kentucky!

Updated: Feb 12, 2019


Good Morning and a Happy Mother's Day to all Mom's out there!

Well folks, I've finally fulfilled my ambition.

In one week, I will be starting a new career in Interpreting and Translating at a Tier 1 auto supplier for Honda, Subaru, and Mitsubishi. This past April has been a whirlwind of emotion, hard work, and... reflection for me.

I guess I will start back at the beginning.

It was very clear that my relationship with my old boss was strained. We had two very different working patterns and thinking patterns. Working with her was mentally draining and with her lack of emotional intelligence (she yelled at customers during negotiations and over the phone so loud enough, the entire office would hear her), I almost immediately knew that this job was not going to be very long.

Since February, nearly a month after joining the company, I was already looking for a new job and going to interviews. And in all honesty, this job was just an "in-between" job while I was figuring out whether or not if I wanted to stay in Ohio, go back to Texas, or maybe somewhere new.

On April 2nd, I was unceremoniously laid off by my previous employer. Without going into too much detail, my boss couldn't retain me due to circumstances outside of my control and her control....

... and in all honesty, this was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I absolutely hated being in sales and I will NEVER go back to being a sales man again with a quota over my head every month. And without even trying to argue to keep my job, I gladly signed the pink slip and told them "your loss", got my stuff, and left that suffocating office with my head held high.

But not before I left, my former boss asked me what my next move was. I told her that I was thinking of focusing on my Japanese and either become a professional interpreter/translator or a Japanese teacher at a middle school or high school.

Snidely laughing, her response was "You teach Japanese? You interpret or translate? That's a joke! Without the N1, your Japanese is just as worthless as you were as a salesman."

It was at that moment I decided to shut up and just leave before I throw her into the lake infront of the office building. She continued to chide me and told me that I was no more valuable than the "worthless laborers in the factory, and that I belong with them".

Nonetheless, I left with my head held high. While she proceeded to extend her hand to me, I declined to shake her hand and just left. Rigth

As I left my previous employer, instead of going directly home, I took a long drive out into the Ohio countryside and just reflected on what I really wanted out of life. After all, I went through two jobs in the span of 3-4 months, and there clearly was a problem if I wasn't fitting into either my first job in Ohio (though I was there for a year and a half) and my previous position.

Was it me?

No...while I might be the common factor in all the jobs that I have previously done, I never had any disciplinary issues at work throughout my work career. In addition, I got along with the majority of my coworkers and other managers (that were American or Western-Educated Japanese. Let's also be honest here folks, you're not going to get along with everyone you meet or work with too either).

Was it my Japanese?

No... other than this woman and my first company not liking my Japanese, I knew that my previous customers and coworkers were impressed with my skills and preferred using Japanese with me.

Then what could it possibly be that was preventing me from staying long at positions and not being able to reach out to my fullest potential?

It then occurred to me... it wasn't that I wasn't unhappy at work, per se. The fact was...

I wasn't happy that I wasn't allowed to or expected to continue growing my Japanese skills.

Each job that I had outside of me living in Japan never expected me to continue on working on my Japanese skills.

The first job I had in Ohio was as a service technician for press machines. While Japanese was an important part of my job, my company's president explicitly told me that my Japanese was never going to be good enough for Japanese people to take me seriously, mostly because I am an "outsider" (aka. Gaijin). You could probably guess why I left that company...

And with my previous position as a sales job that worked exclusively with Honda's MAP (Marysville Auto Plant), I would only be really dealing with Americans in their purchasing department.

So of course... things started to make a lot of sense. If I wasn't in a position that encouraged me to focus on expanding my Japanese skills, I was naturally not going to be happy in any sort of position.

The solution was simple. If I were to find a job that I would excel and (hopefully) stay long-term at, I would need to find a position that would support me learning and developing my Japanese more.

But where to start?

I came home after my layoff on the 2nd at around 6pm. I somehow managed to drive all the way to Columbus without realizing it through the country roads, but it helped relieve some of the stress that I probably would have felt had I just went straight home and wallowed in misery with a tub of ice cream (hey, guys can do that too). Went to bed early too. For come 6am the next morning, I would have a lot of work to do.

To prepare for a situation like this, I had a game plan put into place a long time ago.

  • Hit up EVERY interpreter and/or translator job on Indeed.com in the Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Texas, and Pennsylvania areas. Try to stick with dealing with companies directly

  • Avoid major Japanese recruiting firms (like Activ8, TOP, iii, Actus, Mr. Japanese, and CREO. They're all equally worthless and take too much time due to bureaucratic BS. Plus, I've never had any success with any of them anyway.). If they came to me (and they ALL did), I told them that I wasn't interested in their services. Most of them tried to get me to stay on the line with them to hear me out, but if it got to that point, I promptly hung up.

  • Stick with the local American recruiters if I need to use a recruiter

  • Use Linkedin to find hiring managers

  • Continue with daily operations with Simple Gaijin as much as possible to bring in money

Within a week, I managed to secure an interview... and then a final interview with a small start-up company in Indiana. Very similar to my first position in Ohio, but only this time I would be an interpreter/translator for the president of the company.

But in the end... I decided not to take the position. Mainly because they ended up wanting me to be hired from $45,000... down to $30,000. Apparently their other translator/interpreter, a fresh out of college young man, found out that I was being paid more than he was and objected that I would get so much. But this kid had no experience in Japan or any sort of previous experience whatsoever in manufacturing.

In addition, this company was very secretive on their visas for the Japanese staff. I had a similar situation to this at my first company, where I learned that I was being used to secure visas for their Japanese staff, and I would eventually be released anyway. As such, to prevent such a fate for me, I told the company that I had lost interest in them and went on my way.

Days later, I ended up taking an interview with another company in Bardstown, Kentucky, the bourbon capital of the United States. It was a very standard interview, with their HR Director (an American) and one of their Japanese staff (whom actually emigrated to the US, and was very much American as I was).

During the interview, I was asked to "translate" a document (actually, since the prompt was written, and they didn't ask for a written copy, it was more like "interpret the document", but oh well). Gladly, I did.

Then, they asked me if I would be interested in coming down for a final interview in Bardstown and to "show me around the factory and office". Whenever a company ever offers you this, your chances of getting the job exponentially increases.

Needless to say, I got the job. And now, I am in a hotel room in Louisville, KY preparing for my first day of work tomorrow.

Hard to imagine that over a year ago, I was in Kentucky, passing through on business to Tennessee at one of my previous companies, but now... I'm here in the Blue Grass State. Looking forward to starting a new life here, starting up SG here, and getting involved with the local Japanese community in Louisville (if there is any)... and just keep doing what I do best, all things Japanese.


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Email: mike@simplegaijin.com

Phone: 214-892-3207

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